Consent. What does it mean and how does it apply to sexual behaviors and interactions? Is nudity a sexual expression? Consequently, can one person’s nakedness be considered an intrusion into another person’s privacy? Questions, always questions. Yes, but can there be real answers without first establishing what the questions are? Simply put, no. Question number one: What is consent? Go ahead, take a moment or two to formulate your answer. Once you’ve got it crystallized you may proceed. BUFFERING……………….
OK. Now that you’ve thought about, I mean really thought about it I have, wait for it, more questions. Hah! You ought to know by know. Unless this is your first time reading one of my blogs. In that case, you will become familiar with my style soon enough. Eventually, I get to the heart of the matter. My opinion. The truth. Which are not always mutually exclusive. Most times they are not but occasionally…
So, consent is agreement to engage in a specific activity, usually with full understanding of its implications, also known as “informed consent.” That is to say, it is not acquiescence, which is closer to agreeing under pressure or intimidation. Consensual behavior is one where all parties involved in the activity agree and with at least a somewhat moderate understanding of the possible or probable consequences. Informed consent requires that all parties are acutely aware of most or all of the consequences, intended or unintended. Perfectly clear now, right?
So on to the second question. Can nudity be just that, nakedness? Not sexual, sensual or erotic by intent but may or not be interpreted that way by the beholder. “Not my fault if that is your perception,” is a possible rationale. How to determine what the intention was? Probably can’t. But that can be said for any expression, verbal or otherwise. Is one person’s nakedness an intrusion on another’s sensibilities? Could be. But if there is an expectation that there will be naked bodies in a particular place or circumstance, say a communal shower or locker room, then no. How about at a nude beach? Signs are often posted warning any unsuspecting sunbathers of that probability. At least anywhere I have ventured. Shall we move on? On your text message screen? Well, not if you didn’t request a nude pic, of course. So there I would say that there is an intrusion. But it is still only a naked picture, right? An erect penis may signify some degree of sexual innuendo. Well, sure, a great degree of sexual innuendo. Unless the poor guy suffers from priapism, which is a medical anomaly. So, he’s probably aware of his condition and shouldn’t have a camera anywhere near that region. Agreed.
Naked babies recently became a hot button issue. A very talented photographer recently took pictures of his toddler, a sweet, innocent little girl whom he reportedly loves and cares very much about. He made the questionable decision to post the photographs on the Internet. Displaying his works of art. Maybe well-intended, but probably not well thought-out, considering the wide range of viewers and varying opinions of the general audience. He was called a pedophile. Some of those who did not depict him in such a manner, ranted about how he was catering to an audience of pedophiles. Many defended him. I remember that I posted a comment about how true pedophiles see the erotic nature of children in a Target underwear ad. True pedophile is not a clinical term, by the way. I was expressing my right to use poetic license, whether you consider my writings in the least bit poetic or not! There you have it, folks. Have what? Some limited insight into question number one, and to question number two. Now let’s put the two together to get our final answer.
Sex is not sex without consent. It is sexual assault. Informed consent is the optimum, but in most cases implied consent will suffice. No begging, pleading, criticizing, intimidating or pressuring. Yes means yes, no means no, and maybe means not right now. Period. Anyone who cannot consent due to age, infirmary, impairment (under the influence of a controlled substance, including alcohol), or other circumstance which interferes with the ability to understand and agree. Same as signing a contract, in a way. Go buy a car when you’re drunk and you probably won’t have to maintain your part of the deal. That may be a long, drawn out court case, but it is grounds for dispute. Have sex with a stranger, or even a good friend, and you better be sure she or he is able to consent. No, you don’t need a notarized signature, but it couldn’t hurt. Just play it safe, so to speak. And don’t send nude texts. Just bad form (no pun intended). Besides, they can be used as evidence. Going to the gym? Don’t want to see nakedness, shower and change at home. Hide the mirror first or you’ll be bringing yourself to court. Heading to the beach? Find a nice spot with plenty of bathing attire in full view and stay there! Wandering along the water’s edge could get you to a whole different area with a whole bunch of different folks. Some may not like tan lines.
Mostly it’s a lot like other discussions. Not just black and white but a whole lot of gray. Many shades of gray. No reference to that book/movie of a similar title. I am not a plagiarist. The term was well-used before that tome was published. Sometimes it just takes a small amount of common sense. Which, as I recall someone once saying, are both rare commodities. Use discretion, think it through, get consent and in most public arenas, keep your pants (skirts, knickers, undies, thongs and jockstraps) in place.